HC Deb 31 March 1958 vol 585 cc831-2
20. Colonel Glyn

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement on the report of the Food Standards Committee on sausages.

Mr. John Hare

Yes, Sir. In May, 1956, the Food Standards Committee reported in favour of statutory minimum standards for sausages, but was unable to agree as to the types of meat to be allowed in sausages described as "pork" or "beef". The majority recommended that the addition of up to 20 per cent. of meat other than the named meat should be permitted, but a minority of the Committee recommended that sausages so described should not be allowed to contain other meat in any proportion.

I am advised that the majority recommendation would be unenforceable because there is no known method of determining the proportions of pork or beef and other meats in a sausage; the minority recommendation would conflict with long-established custom in the trade.

I could not agree to establish a standard for sausages that cannot be enforced, and I am unwilling to make it an offence to continue an old and reputable trade practice used by many firms of national and local repute. There is, therefore, no action which I can take on the Committee's report.

Colonel Glyn

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask him whether he would be prepared to look into the matter again if a suitable method of analysis could be found to enable regulations to be enforceable?

Mr. Hare

If that did happen, a new situation would arise, and I should certainly be willing to consider that situation.

Mr. Hastings

Will not the right hon. Gentleman work out some scheme whereby the purchasers of sausages may know the percentage of meat the sausages contain, whether of pork, beef, cat or whatever it is?

Mr. Hare

That, indeed, is my difficulty. It is quite impossible, with the scientific knowledge we have available, to ascertain exactly what proportion of what meat there is in a sausage.

Mr. Willey

Will not the Minister do something to save us from these disappointing sausages?

Mr. Hare

The sausages we eat today are of quite excellent quality.

Dame Irene Ward

Can my right hon. Friend explain why sausages always seem to defeat everybody?

Mr. Hare

I should be very rash if I tried to answer the hon. Lady. This is a very vexed problem which has troubled many Ministers of Agriculture.